Monday, May 4, 2009

The Ring in 300 Words

Attention, everyone: THIS is how you review an opera for the newspaper. The Post's James Jorden gives us the plot (one sentence), a critique of the production (two sentences), an evaluation of the conductor (one sentence), and an assessment of the various singers' musical and dramatic performances (most of the review). And of course, along the way, a Child's Garden of Zingers:
Director Otto Schenk's widely admired production follows the stage directions literally, achieving the elaborate but unconvincing realism of a theme park. Instead of pondering moral issues, the audience marvels that styrofoam can be made to look so much like granite. ... Half a century on the operatic stage has hardly dimmed [the legendary Placido Domingo's] lustrous tenor; unfortunately, neither has it refined his gibberish German.
and for the win:
World-class bass René Pape (Fasolt/Hunding) sounded tentative, even timid. The "Ring" is no place for sissies.
Side note: Is anyone else weirded out by how terrific Domingo's Wagner singing is at the age of 68? There are dudes literally half his age who would sell their souls to sound this good. Here he is in L.A., via Tim Mangan:I can't help but wonder if, gathering dust in an attic somewhere, there is a painting of him in increasingly awful voice.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought Pape sounded great on 23 May as Fasolt - like he wasn't forcing his voice as must be necessary sometimes when overused. Didn't make it to Walkure however so can't comment on his Hundig.

May 4, 2009 at 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hundig s/b Hunding sorry...

May 4, 2009 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Graham Sleight said...

Is it bad that I saw that video and thought "lightsabers!"? (Also, the long-armed-woman reminded me of whichever Monty Python sketch it was that used the same trick.)

Back on topic: yes, PD's voice is somewhat miraculous these days. A few years ago I got to see a stunning complete concert performance of Walkure with him, Meier, & Terfel (on a £5 ticket - god bless the BBC), serialised starting here; review, of slightly more than 300 words, here.

May 4, 2009 at 4:06 PM  
Blogger Dan Johnson said...

GS: Not at all. I think everybody who saw this production thought "lightsabers!" (And I believe the Monty Python sketch to which you refer is Find the Fish from The Meaning of Life.)

The question is, is it an intentional reference? The Star Wars thing I mean. After all, Luke Skywalker's sword was also an inheritance from the father he never knew.

And both cycles are familial sagas about the corrupting desire for absolute power.

Also, twincest.

May 4, 2009 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well, having just seen Das Rheingold, I have to say I found Pape's Fasolt one of the most interesting things of the evening (Hunding will have to wait until tomorrow). Fasolt was clearly delineated from Fafner, a more conflicted, lovelorn and, sure, softie version of his greedier brother. He's, after all, the one who's having the tougher time giving up beauty for money. The giants don't usually give me much pause for thought, but Pape's performance tonight did.

May 5, 2009 at 12:11 AM  
Anonymous Graham Sleight said...


I think everybody who saw this production thought "lightsabers!"Yeah, but my second thought was "There are about eight red lightsabers there! But red lightsabers are only used by Sith Lords! And we know there are only ever two Sith Lords at once! So THIS IS WRONG!" I know that's bad.

And yeah, twincest et al, but that's just an indicator that RW (unconsciously) and GL (consciously) were ripping off the Campbellian monomyth.

May 5, 2009 at 8:54 AM  

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